Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Planning a "Commitment Reunion" instead of a "Wedding"

As I prepare to head to Louisiana for my ten-year reunion with Teach For America, I'm once again reflecting on the similarities and differences between reunions and weddings.

As we planned the reunion, we were thinking first and foremost about the people and how to schedule our time together so that we would prioritize community, connection, and fun. We put in lots of "chill and hang out" time, like the Fiesta at someone's house on Friday night, the crawfish boil on Saturday, and the brunch on Sunday. We also incorporated a few of our favorite activities, like a game of Ultimate and a trip to a music festival.

Once those big rocks were in place, we started pouring in the sand. We decided to make a commemorative CD of everyone's favorite songs, and we started planning the details of what we would eat and drink. We did not even once stress about what the food would be served on or what people would sit on. I did plan to sew a special dress for the occasion, but when I completely botched it, I decided to pull out a regular skirt from my closet (one that I got ten years ago in Louisiana).

Of course there are real differences between reunions and weddings that haven't been illuminated yet. For example, a wedding is an important life event that formalizes the commitment between two people.

However, it's not clear in my mind how that significant difference ends up manifesting itself in so many insignificant ways. Why does wedding planning have to involve large amounts of stress around details as insignificant as stamps (which is one of my personal examples of stress!)?

I wonder if it's because we are eager to put ourselves wholeheartedly into our marriages. Maybe we want to "get off on the right foot." Maybe we want to honor the significance of what we are about the undertake but our consumer culture gives us so many misguided outlets for expressing that significance?

I wonder if the "reunion mentality" could help re-ground us in the big rocks of wedding planning? Yes, there will still be countless details to coordinate, but those details should take a backseat to the more significant details of who will be there and what we'll be doing together.

It would be like planning a "Commitment Reunion." You would be bringing together your nearest and dearest to celebrate your commitment (with the emphasis on the "commitment," which is why it's first in the phrase).

Hmmm....just a thought.

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Tamara Williams said...

I think about that myself...what makes this party so different from other parties?

I have a terrible habit of building events up...too many years of reading Sweet Valley High novels, I guess. Prom, Graduation, all of those become containers where I pour all my hopes and dreams that I will stop being me, at least temporarily, and become a character, where people are rational actors and they do what I want, for once! And I get to wear a pretty dress and dance and take lots of pictures and everything glows.

Batty, yes. So I'm trying to just have my glow for personal use. That's good enough.

Jenn said...

This is actually very similar to what my partner and I are doing! We are having a small, very private ceremony with about 10 in attendance. Then, a couple weeks later we are inviting all of our nearest and dearest to casual cookout-type party at a local park for our many friends and family. We went to this park on our second date, have hiked there innumerable times, have even fought there. We will be incorporating family who cook, deejay, sing, etc. The emphasis at the party is on having fun and mingling our two chosen families, but the catalyst for the event is celebrating the commitment we will have made to each other. Changing the language of the event from "reception" to "celebration" has really helped me focus on what is important to me that day, which is definitely family and friends over fanfare.

Brite Lines said...

Many have remarked (and we agree) taht our wedding was much like a family reunion. Since the grandparents in our families are gone or not living at home any longer, our wedding gave six families who are spread all over the country a chance to gather together. (Six because I have adopted mom's side and dad's side and biological mom's side and dad's side) While there certainly was mingling among the groups, there were also mini reunions of sort; for example all of Dave's mom's brothers and sisters stayed in a house together for the week.
Our wedding wasn't activites-oriented per se, or designed to be a reunion, but was more the catalyst for the impromptu reunions that our families really enjoyed.

"T-Bone" Lee said...

Our wedding will be a reunion of sorts simply because I have a huge family who only really all in is one place at large events like weddings...

....but I have to sort of take beef with the current trend of everyone wanting to deny the "weddingness" of their wedding. So many people in the blogosphere who are afraid of being lumped in with the Wedding Industrial Complex say things like "I just want it to be a big party!" or "it's really a reunion!"....just admit it! It's a wedding! Embrace it for all it's importance and significance! Yes, it's great to have a wedding weekend full of activities and fun....but don't deny what you and your partner are doing by having this ceremony! (I'm not saying that's what you did, Sara, I'm just pointing out that I think a lot of folks are so afraid to just have a wedding already!)

Claire said...

It is so easy for anyone to get tied up in all the details and stress. I agree that if we all just took a step back and think about the more important things. The "little rocks" would eventually go into place.

Amberdawn said...

Stressing over stamps? Oh dear. I'm hugely detail oriented, so I do worry about falling into this trap about sweating the small stuff. But I have a long engagement, hopefully that will help.

Interesting comparison between reunion and wedding. Mine won't be at all. I'm having a very small guest list: only those who have been part of our lives in the past 10 years. No distant relatives. We this that will feel more intimate.

A-L, said...

I think one of the reasons why details become so important at a wedding is because we've sort of become ingrained to thinking of them. After the wedding we remember the food, cake, music, general decor (not super picky details, but the overall feeling of it), and we judge. It was a fun wedding, but was it really worth $150k? Gosh, that was a really dry cake. Ooh, that was a really cool location! Goodness, that deejay stank. And because weddings are so important because of the fact that a marriage has just begun, people tend to remember them more than a random party, or even, a reunion. So I think that's why we obsess about the details, though perhaps these are more like the big rocks you were filling your reunion jar with.

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